Nurturing Entrepreneurs: More Power to the SMALL BUSINESS WORLD!!!

Have you heard of


 If you have a small business, or you plan on being a successful entrepreneur then you might want to be in the know. While the SBA, SCORE, and the Chamber of Commerce are great, NEXLabs is the new organization in town to help you with your business needs.

What is NEXLabs?

NEXLabs is a non-profit organization based out of Atlanta Georgia, helping to extend the lives of the small businesses that entrepreneurs build every day. Fairly new, this organization has only been running since 2010, and takes on a more personal approach. This non-profit is a breath of fresh air to the local businesses that help uplift the local communities.

How it works:

Entrepreneurs and business owners go through steps known as the idea-stage incubator process, which is about a 12-16 weeks. This process has been tested on 17 companies with successful results in an array of business fields; urban agriculture, transportation, low-income & transitional housing, environmental filters, cultural documentation (app), health care reform information, endurance sports communities, adventure travel, and e-commerce for local independent retailers. Mentors are available to these entrepreneurs as well to address needs in different areas of business that person may not be proficient in.


Mentors in this organization are people who donate their time and efforts to help business owners in strengthening specific areas. Right now NEXLabs has an assortment of mentors specializing in areas such as law, graphic design, financing, business plans, leadership counseling, certification counseling, and mobile app, and website design, SEO, and having a responsive website. During 2012, 37 mentors gave a total of 1,432 hours of time.  With an average billed rate of $250.00, this means a collective of $358,000.00.

Burning Plan:

Burning Plan LogoNEXLabs also has a separate event held once a month called Burning Plan. Burning plan is an event that focusses on one entrepreneur at a time; kind of like a Q and A session. The entrepreneur comes to discuss their concerns and questions about their business. Other entrepreneurs, business owners, community, and mentors come together in a group setting to enhance the idea generation process, hoping to solve problems, give solutions, and create better businesses in the process.

*If you would like to apply to present at Burning Plan, please email michelle.morgan@nexlabs.org. You will need to submit a pitch deck or 2 minute video, financial projections and an executive summary or project summary.

Other Places to check out to enhance your small business:


Georgia Chamber of Commerce


Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs


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Posted in: Entrepreneurship, News

Space Spotlight! CO+HOOTS

CO+HOOTS! Creative, Collaborative, Coworking.

A new coworking space seems to pop up almost daily, but there are a few spaces that stand out in our eyes.

CO+HOOTS was the first coworking space in Phoenix AZ, and founded by the fabulous Jenny Poon. She was highlighted in the 40 under 40 in the Phoenix Business Journal this year (clap clap)! CO+HOOTS  has its very own coffee shop for all of you caffeine lovers out there.  The space has an awesome glass conference room right in the heart of all the action,  and meeting rooms are conveniently tucked away in the back. Basically, we couldn’t get enough of this space, and we are happy to support them and their 2nd location in Texas; coworking works, and it is growing!

A great thing about the coworking community is that we are all about building and fostering relationships. We had the pleasure of hanging out with Jenny at the Global Coworking Unconference Conference and it was A BLAST. At GCUC,  coworking owners got to build relationships, make friends, share ideas, and inspire one another. Rayann and I had the opportunity to hang out with Jenny a couple weeks ago. With our iPhones in hand, we took a couple pics of some of the cool creative aspects of CO+HOOTS that we would like to share with you!


We heart white boards…. and peace signs.


Typical coworking lunch time… 2 screens, sports, takeout.


Member spot light! In the laid back lounge area.


Awesome way to stay organized, White board + black tape + organization = GET WORK DONE!


My favorite part. Meet the dishwasher mirror. GENIUS!


This guy right here…


The gals! Rayann, Jenny and Kristin. Taking the world by storm!


Startups and SpongeBob SqaurePants: Takeaways


Startups and SpongeBob SquarePants:  Takeaways

Believe it or not, SpongeBob has been broadcasting since 1999 with 152 episodes and 340 story segments.  Although kids have been the primary viewers throughout the years, there are many takeaways regarding business from this widely acclaimed show.  A story typically involves a relatively simple problem in which SpongeBob and Patrick engage in outrageous, creative, and hilarious solutions in an attempt to solve these problems.  Business lessons are often intertwined within these 15 minute long episodes. We can often turn to the great entrepreneurs of our time for advice, but sometimes it’s just more fun to turn to our favorite Porifera and his Echinoderm friend in Bikini Bottom.

1.  Work Ethic

SpongeBob has an over-the-top work ethic. He is passionate about his job at the Krusty Krab restaurant where he is charged with making Krabby Patties.  His example to all of us is that even in mundane tasks, we must put effort into the details in order for the results to be spectacular.  SpongeBob once said “I always come here at three a.m.  This is when I count the sesame seeds.”  Although this an extreme example of  quality control, it shows us that preparation and work ethic can take a business from “eh” to SPECTACULAR.

2. Core Strategy

Many times SpongeBob and Patrick found themselves with a “light bulb” of an idea and then made the efforts to pursue it.  However, many obstacles come into play and they often stray from their original idea and go on wild whirlwind tangents that lead to laughs along the way, but also teach us valuable lessons.  Many times we can conclude that if SpongeBob would have stuck with his original plan (Core Strategy), many of his pitfalls could have been easily avoided.  As a startup, it is easy to be pulled in many directions, especially with the promise of opportunity. It is crucial to stay on track, analyze new opportunities within your core strategy, determine whether they are cohesive and act accordingly.

3. Don’t catch the “Get Rich Quick” bug

In the episode “Chocolate with Nuts”, SpongeBob finds a copy of “Fancy Living Digest” magazine and is struck by the idea that he can sell chocolate door-to-door and get rich quick. Together with Patrick, they encounter problem after problem as they attempt to sell a product they know nothing about to customers they know nothing about. They were both caught up in the idea of wealth and overlooked the due diligence that is crucial to starting a business.

4. Hire passion

Mr. Krabs is a typical cartoon boss who is obsessed with wealth and believes that “cash is king”.  While he spends the majority of the time at the restaurant counting his money, he has done a great job at hiring talent to properly execute his business.  Although you shouldn’t take too many business tips from Mr. Krabs, he shows us that we should hire our weaknesses, and hire employees with a strong work ethic.

5.  Don’t let your work take over your life

Although SpongeBob demonstrates incredible drive and passion for his job, he also teaches us the dangers of letting your work take over your life.  In the episode “Missing Identity”, he faints upon realizing his name tag is missing.  This example teaches us that keeping a balance between work and personal life is crucial.  Entrepreneurs often have to put in long hours and wear many hats, especially in the initial phases. Even though there may not be enough hours in a day, try to keep your life balanced.  When you are not working, strive to rejuvenate and charge your batteries so when you do get back at it you have a clear, energized mind.

Keep Calm and Keep Coworking

keep-calm-and-keep-coworkingEver since the coworking movement started, a few questions have arisen. “What is coworking?” and “Is coworking a trend?”. We don’t think it’s going anywhere, but now Forbes came forward with an article from May 28th, titled [drum roll please] “Why Coworking Spaces Are Here To Stay.”

Coworking is bringing the world a new type of work environment, and it’s also positively contributing to the corporate world as well. Corporations will not be able to ignore the innovative coworking spaces and the ideas coming from them. Today, the corporate world’s primary focus is monetary capital, however, there are other important aspects of capital to consider as well. The Forbes article says it best:

“We believe that the 21st century economy will be largely fueled by capital other than monetary capital; meaning influence capital or social capital, human capital—we believe that those are going to be much more powerful as we shift from an industrial to a knowledge-based economy.”

This concept coincides with the very fundamentals of coworking. Yes, with coworking you are technically working alone alongside other people. However, the resources, and human capital at a coworkers fingertips are incalculable. Coworking spaces incubate variety, freedom of expression, and support individuals to bring their own uniqueness and creativity to the space. In the corporate world, many companies praise uniformity and structure. With coworking, rules are minimal and weirdness is encouraged; this could be a reason why some of the most up and coming companies are being born in coworking spaces today.

We’ll leave the final word from our friend Derek Neighbors with Gangplank: “I think that this movement is teaching not only individual freelancers a lot but is teaching corporate America a lot about how people interact, what makes them effective at creation and is really defining the future of how companies interact with each other on a deeper level.”

What do you think the main differences between the corporate world and the coworking world are?

The Juiciest coworking event of 2013- Why we’ll be there


Many people in the coworking community are already familiar with The Global Coworking Unconference Conference kicking off its second year in Austin, Texas March 5th-6th.  Rayann and I have been gearing up for this event for a few months now. We teamed up with Liz Elm, the Executive Producer of GCUC, and owner of Link Coworking to help spread the word via the web of this awesome event. We are proud to be a part of the GCUC social media team and we are looking forward to bringing you live action once the conference is underway!

Here are the reasons we are going:

  1. We believe in the coworking movement.
  2. We are collaborators; therefore, why not collaborate with other space owners.
  3. No need to predict the future, we are going to create it.
  4. Get those tough questions answered with expert panelists.
  5. Did someone say food trucks?
  6. Check out beautiful Austin!
  7. Finally meet people face-to-face that we’ve been talking to on Facebook, Google groups, and Twitter- #newfriends
  8. The Work Spot is hosting The Unofficial GCUC Coworkaholics Pre-Party the night before.
  9. All the cool kids are doing it.

Duluth Mayor Nancy Harris and Young Professionals

Yesterday was Mayor Nancy Harris’s State of the City Address, and we were thrilled to have been in attendance as well as being mentioned in her slide show! Her presentation focused on building the city to become a desirable place for Millennials (born 1982-2000) in order for growth. Faye Edmonson summed up the event perfectly on Patch.com by quoting Mayor Harris’s main points:

  • “Young professionals also want to have opportunities to become engaged in the community”
  • “Young professionals usually organize around issues rather than go to meetings on a regular basis”
  • “Today’s young people tend to be lifelong learners looking for authenticity”
  • “If we involve young people in our city, they’re going to stay here”
  • Nancy also mentioned the Work Spot in her speech by emphasizing the importance of entrepreneurs in the community: “Providing multiple earning options where young entrepreneurs can flourish, such as the Work Spot, a coworking environment, also are desirable.”

We understand the importance of collaboration, connectedness, entrepreneurship, and guess what? So do Millennials. With this in mind, we have very exciting programs  for Millennials and entrepreneurs at the Work Spot.

Our goals for 2013 coincide with Nancy Harris and the city of Duluth; we can’t wait to see local businesses grow, community involvement evolve, and for Duluth to become a hub for entrepreneurs to come for resources, support, and success.

StateoftheCityDuluth Economic Manager Chris McGahee, left, with Kristin Donaldson, who represented The Work Spot. Credit: Faye Edmundson

Coworking > Co-working

CoworkingThis just might be the shortest blog post to date.  Friendly reminder, we think it’s spelled “coworking.” :)

Check out the full conversation from DeskMag’s article, Coworking or co-working?



Business Centers vs. Coworking


As the word “coworking” has begun to spread, and people are understanding the concept, we often hear these two phrases a lot: “So, you’re like Regus?” and “Ohh, so you’re a business center.”

We can understand where these two thoughts come from, but we wanted to get the word out and set the record straight. Deskmag also reacted to a publication from Regus that boldly defined coworking as something from the “past.” Deskmag has also written about how business centers and coworking spaces are not in competition with one another even though there are overlapping clientele.

Coworking Regus
 People can voluntarily work with one another Many corporations place employees at locations
Attracting individuals Attracting companies
Unique and culturally different locations Many standardized locations
Can be geared towards different specialties, (tech coworking, artistic coworking, women’s coworking) Not specialized
Flexibility to bring in community culture (example: local art work in shared space) Limited flexibility
Cell phones Answering service
Anything but corporate Corporatey
Happy Hour (some locations) Dry
Collaboration encouraged Grey area
Come talk to us about your needs in person Get an online quote


Here are just a few points, and there are many more not mentioned. Maybe we are biased, but at the end of the day coworking is awesome and we want more people to be a part of it.  Collaboration is the name of the game, no matter where it happens.




Photo credit


10 Reasons you should book your next event at The Work Spot

Training Room

Ok guys, it’s no secret that we have space to rent by the hour or the day. Presenting our 3 options:

1) Meeting Room
2) Conference Room
3) Training Room

Here are 10 reasons why we are more awesome than the other event places:

1) Overhead projector, and all AV connectors included:

Some places charge you to use their equipment in their rental space. Not us! We want to give you as many freebies as possible. We have all AV connectors for Macs and PCs so all you have to remember is to bring your laptop!

2) Free Wi-fi

Yeah, we said it.

3) Coffee Shop next door

Chocolate Perks is located right next to us. Caffeine makes every event better, face it.

4) Ambiance

Our art filled training room provides creativity to even the most non-creative person in corporate America. All of our art is by local artists. We also have a fun orange wall in our training room that can make anyone smile!

5) Free parking… oh and a park right across the street

Don’t you hate going to events and find out parking isn’t included? Parking is always free and we are located right on Main Street in historic Duluth. We are also right across our gorgeous town park area.

6) We can fit 30 comfortably.

Depending on your event and room layout, we can fit around 30 people comfortably in the training room. That’s a lot of people.

7) Price, duh!

Yeah $50 an hour is a steal! And guess what… if you’re a Work Spot member it’s only $25 an hour. Take THAT hotel room rental prices, bam!

8) White board and markers

We know you love to doodle, and we have 16 foot long white board and markers for your enjoyment.

9) We help you promote it

If you have an event in our space, we will post it as an event on our Facebook page and mention it to our members in our weekly newsletter.

10) Cause you want to grow your business

Hosting an event or training session will boost brand awareness, and give you cool points.

Intern- or no Intern that is the question…

The Work Spot has just completed another successful semester with a super-duper sharp intern. Many businesses often find interns to be very helpful, but how do you know if this will be the right fit for you and your business?

  • Do you have time? Interns take a lot of hands on effort, especially in the beginning. Time out your work week and see how many hours a week you can commit to your intern before you even start the search.
  • Have a syllabus. Most schools require the intern to turn in a syllabus prepared by the company of the tasks and duties that will be taking place.  Write the backbone, or main points once to save you time in the future, and then adapt the syllabus on a case-by-case basis depending on the strengths of your intern.
  • Do not just get an intern to get coffee or file papers. This relationship needs to be mutually beneficial.
  • When he/she starts their internship, find out about their hobbies, classes they are taking, and academic strengths. Build a solid relationship.
  • You can often learn from them. Today’s intern generation is super savvy with technology. For example, maybe there is a mobile application that can help with organization that you don’t know about?
  • Give your intern assorted tasks, feedback, a task that he/she can complete from beginning to end.  Let them know the importance of their work and make them feel part of the team.

An intern is a win-win and you could be building company loyalty which could create a great future employee. Get creative, don’t be afraid to take a student under your wing, and encourage your intern to share their future successes with you even when their time with you is done. And remember, HAVE FUN!

If you would like to learn more about getting an intern or resources to find one email us and we’ll be happy to chat with you.